Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Sunday Chicken

I was in Paris not long ago and one dish that I didn’t get to have there was Coq au vin. I therefore determined to make some. It has been a while. Since my Sunday night plans opened up, I contacted two priest friends who wound up free for supper (after the Packers game, of course).

I’ve done Coq au vin more than once for the blog, but it has been awhile.  I haven’t been doing any interesting cooking for long time now. My recent travels have sparked anew a desire to do something.

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And so it came to pass that I made a grocery and booze run during the first half and then set about making the desired dish, using Julia Child’s recipe. Who else? I used her first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  UK HERE

One of the first things you have to do is get some of the fat off the bacon. Slice lean bacon into small pieces, lardons, and simmer them in water. I like larger pieces rather than the very narrow you sometimes see. The water gets rather scummy but… that’s the point.  It is discarded.

BTW… as before, I am doing this entirely on a hot plate.  I don’t have a stove.

Then you brown them in lots of butter.

Then, in the butter and bacon fat, you brown the chicken. I use dark meat for this, since I didn’t have an old rooster.  Season it well before you add the meat for the browning stage.  Salt and pepper are your friends.

Thanks, by the way, to readers S & KA who sent me the hotplates – quite a while ago now – from my wish list.  I think of them often as I cook, for the hardware is a nice reminder of their kindness.

I brushed the stuff off of the mushrooms, which I quartered. That is I cut them up, I didn’t give them a place to live.

I also set about (on a separate hot plate) to braise the little onions, glacé a brun, as it were.

Then the mushrooms take their turn. They have a lot of water in them, so do only a few at a time, lest they steam each other in the pan.

Since I have limited options, having only two hot plates, I decided to combine the mushrooms and onions.  Here you see the auxiliary hot plate, non-inductive.  It doesn’t come out very often, but I needed an extra spot.  I could have done it with just one, but I didn’t have the time that would have involved.

Time to flame up the chicken. I used about a 1/4 cup of brandy. Whoosh! This isn’t just “for effect”, as it were. This step firms up the flesh before the simmering stage.

Once that was burned off and reduced, I put in the bouquet garnis and a bit of tomato paste, a mashed garlic clove, and wine. I used a good Côte du Rhone. Remember that your Coq au vin or Boeuf Bourguignon will depend in large part on the quality of the wine.  It stands to reason since it is a principle ingredient.  Spend a few bucks more and get something that you would want to drink on its own, or even use the same wine you will drink with the meal. Nasty cheap wine will make your meal less than what it could have been, thus ruining the potential of the other ingredients you spent money and time on.

So, in go the wine and then stock. I used some beef stock and some chicken stock which I had at hand.  The bouquet garnis included thyme and just a few leaves of rosemary.  I think I will exclude the rosemary next time.  Julia’s recipe didn’t call for it, but I had some at hand and I fell into temptation.  Rosemary is tricky when liquids are involved.  It can overwhelm everything else if you are not careful.  In this case, it didn’t.  It was subtle.  But I am not sure that the touch of rosemary significantly improved what this dish was meant to be.  The bay leaves, however, were essential.  Get the imported leaves. I don’t think the California laurel tastes right.

At this point priest guests were present. I have no pics of the beurre manié, which does what roux accomplishes: thicken the sauce. You extract the chicken, start to reduce the liquid and add the beurre, because there wasn’t enough beurre in it already.

Alas, I also don’t have shots of the table and everything plated up, though we did it family style. The ravenous hoard did leave my two pieces as left overs. Here they are reheated the next day. I dare say that the chicken was even better than the night before.

I left all the lardon in, of course.  The plate needed some additional personality, but.. hey.  Left overs!  Right?

Sunday meals with others are important.  Make plans to make meals.  Invite people.  Get those knees under the table and make an afternoon or evening of it.  Eating together is a blessing and a great way to make a Sunday a Sunday.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. capchoirgirl says:

    going to have to make this soon….along with her boeuf bourguignon. One of the great things about winter is making all these lovely dishes!

  2. LarryW2LJ says:

    And here I thought I was a decent cook! Fr. Z, you way outdo anything I could come up with ….. but that being said, next time you’re in the NYC area, you have an standing invitation to come and dine in South Plainfield, NJ. It may not be as fancy, but it’ll “eat good” as they say.

  3. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Wow. That’s a challenging kitchen set-up!
    I recently made Coq au Riesling, but my wife found it too rich for her tastes. The logistics of thje latter are less demanding.

  4. BigRed says:

    Good on you, Father! Your hard-won skills are on full display.

    If I may make two suggestions for Coq au vin: The technique of blanching the bacon serves to calm a very heavy cure and/or smoke. Dealing with mild-cured supermarket bacon one might bypass the blanching and just go to the saute. Unless one indeed is cooking an old coq, I recommend holding the breast out until the last 10 minutes so it doesn’t overcook. I like the dark meat anyway so I often do all thighs.

  5. joan ellen says:

    Your ingredients for the recipes you use always look so fresh and inviting. I use a hot plate to cook with and am impressed with yours. Thank you also for the reminder that we should invite others to dinner.

  6. ManyMacarons says:

    I’ve been wanting to make this! Although my family doesn’t have such a refined palette, perhaps I’ll do it for fun…
    Noticed what looked like a Le Crueset in Marseille?! I only own a few small pieces, as Staub is more affordale, but one day I may just get a 7qt LC. They’re soo much lighter and my wrists would thank me.

    Keep up the inspiration!

  7. Mojoron says:

    Someone may have asked, or you may have said earlier, why no stove? You live in a garage?

  8. Joe in Canada says:

    “Get some of the fat off the bacon”??? No wonder you watched the Packers game instead of the Grey Cup. [Sapienti pauca.]

  9. Chiara says:

    That looks absolutely delicious! When I read your final paragraph, it occurred to me that Father Patalinghug should have you on his “Grace Before Meals” show on EWTN. That is his philosophy as well – to eat well and to eat together and to give thanks. God bless you!

  10. The Masked Chicken says:

    Coq au vin? Yeah, right – get the chicken drunk and cook it while it’s not looking…when I typed in coq au vin in the comment box, my iPad spell-checker converted it to, “cow Austin something-or-other.” See, even computers know that cows and Texas go better together than onions and drunk chickens :(

    Oh, did you know that Julia Childs received an award from the American Chemical Society for applied biochemistry?

    The Chicken

  11. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    Haha. This is a little too close for comfort for The Chicken. It’s not just his computer that wants to change the topic to cows. Whatever, as Julia would say, “Bon appetit!”

  12. murtheol says:

    Fr. Z that is great looking enameled cast iron pot. What is it?

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